Atheophobia
And Antisemitism
Eleanor Simpson

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From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Request for Past Issues of Magazine
Date: Thursday, October 21, 1999 3:46 AM

Some atheists of Jewish heritage see it as strictly a religion, and call themselves former Jews. I see things differently, to the point where whenever I hear someone call themselves "a recovering Catholic" I suggest they follow the example of some humanistic and atheistic Jews and start calling themselves "a cultural Catholic." I like to see people try to find dignity in their roots -- even if they have a tough time seeing their upbringing as dignified.

I grew up on a street that was dominated by Jews and Catholics, and went to a school that was right next to a mile-long housing project which was home to European immigrants of every stripe (1964-1968). It was neither Jews nor Catholics who gave me a tough time about being an unbeliever. There was no room for bigotry at that school because everybody was so completely different from everybody else.

After a three-year stint in a fundamentalist/reformed flavor of Christianity, the man who did the most to help me out of the fog and back on my feet was the scholar of Jewish history, Hyam Maccoby. I still don't know to this day if he was a theist or a humanist, because his own views never entered into the picture. Jewish culture is one of several cultures that has influenced me profoundly over the years.

You see, I was adopted and have no clue even what race I am. (I've heard that I'm White but that's only what I've been told!) My adoptive mother's family was Unitarian from England and New England. My adoptive father comes from a long line of half-breeds, which eventually converges on South Carolina during the American Revolution: two of his ancestors signed the United States Constitution and another signed the Declaration of Independence. Dad's parents lived in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon for perhaps 20 years, so I have some vaguely Islamic cultural roots as well. Our webpage showcases an atheistic movement in India, and our magazine's core philosophy comes from that movement in India, which has its roots in Gandhi's philosophy of satyagraha.

With this varied background, my Dad's family's cultural background is fierce independence. They did not fit in either with the Indians or the Whites. They really had no culture and were forced to create their own culture. Being culturally unanchored, my cultural experience has been across the board. While I have no experience that even remotely resembles the sentiments express when you say "my people," I do feel a profound affinity for anybody who would struggle for the dignity of anyone -- even if their struggle is for their own dignity and even if they were forced into the struggle just to survive. I think this results from the indignity that I have, at times, suffered for being culturally and psychologically "different."

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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From: Positive Atheism <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To:
Subject: Re: Your e-mail
Date: Friday, October 22, 1999 7:11 PM

Methinks WWII either changed this or that some special cases were probably made. This was the South Clairemont section of San Diego. Probably one-third of Whittier Elementary School was composed of Immigrants at the time -- a drop in the bucket, perhaps, but this "drop" was definitely concentrated upon this one school.

I think this may account for the fact that my suggestion hasn't gone over very well.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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